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A Child’s Letter and the Struggle to End Global Hunger

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Jefferson Caffery was very busy in the early months of 1948 as the United States ambassador to France. An interim aid program was underway to provide war-torn France with desperately-needed food and supplies. This was critical to stabilize the situation in France and other countries before the great European reconstruction program, known as the Marshall Plan, could begin.

One day the ambassador received an interesting letter from a resident of France. It was from Anne-Marie Pocreau, an 8-year old girl from Vannes writing what she thought of the interim aid initiative. Anne-Marie told the ambassador of the thrill of eating "some good bread" for "the first time in a long time." She writes "Papa says it is bread made with flour from America. As Mama often tells us we must always say thank you."

              

To show her thanks, she included with the letter a picture of herself and her siblings. Ambassador Caffery had the letter and picture reprinted in an interim aid report released that summer by President Harry Truman.

American foreign policy during this post-war period did wonders for children who had suffered greatly through the most destructive war in history. It was the little things, like a simple loaf of bread or free supplementary meals to school children in Italy, which made all the difference.

This history serves as a reminder that American foreign policy is at its best when children's health is a top priority. Today, across the globe children are not getting the help they need. The U.S. has to lead the international community in addressing this escalating crisis.

For example, in Côte d’Ivoire 430,000 children had their school meal ration cut in half recently because of low funding for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). If new funding cannot be found, the school meal program will be stopped entirely.

“This sharp reduction in food rations is most unfortunate since it takes place at a time when the country is on a critical path in the peace process,” said Thomas Yanga, WFP’s Regional Director for West Africa.

In Yemen, low funding for the WFP operation there is causing ration cuts that will have a tremendous impact on children’s health. One WFP school feeding program has been suspended since June.

In Sudan, WFP is facing a shortfall for its 2010 operation of about 460 million dollars, putting child feeding and other programs once again at severe risk.

But this crisis of hunger, particularly for children, is not insolvable. If the world engages the problem, positive results will be achieved at relatively little expense. World Vision’s Robert Zachritz, citing the conclusions of an expert in economics stated, “fighting hunger and child malnutrition is a cost-effective intervention.”

The Roadmap to End Global Hunger legislation (H.R. 2817), which is currently awaiting action in the House of Representatives, explains what’s at stake for America in the global hunger fight.

The Roadmap states, “Hunger, malnutrition, under-nutrition, and food insecurity affect nearly every aspect of international security, development, and humanitarian response within the Federal Government.”

The child hunger crisis that rages in the world today has deep implications for everyone's future.

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About William Lambers

William Lambers is the author of several books including Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World. This book features over 50 interviews with officials from the UN World Food Programme and other charities discussing school feeding programs that fight child hunger. He is also the author of Nuclear Weapons, The Road to Peace: From the Disarming of the Great Lakes to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Open Skies for Peace, The Spirit of the Marshall Plan: Taking Action Against World Hunger, School Lunches for Kids Around the World, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, From War to Peace and the Battle of Britain. He is also a writer for the History News Service. His articles have been published by newspapers including the Cincinnati Enquirer, Des Moines Register, the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Buffalo News, San Diego Union Tribune, the Providence Journal, Free Lance-Star (VA), the Bakersfield Californian, the Washington Post, Miami Herald (FL), Chicago Sun-Times, the Patriot Ledger (MA), Charleston Sunday Gazette Mail (WV), the Cincinnati Post, Salt Lake Tribune (UT), North Adams Transcript (MA), Wichita Eagle (KS), Monterey Herald (CA), Athens Banner-Herald (GA) and the Duluth News Journal. His articles also appear on History News Network (HNN) and Think Africa Press. Mr. Lambers is a graduate of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio with degrees in Liberal Arts (BA) and Organizational Leadership (MS). He is also a member of the Feeding America Blogger Council.